Armando Salguero

Only drastic, amazing moves in 2018 offseason can salvage the Miami Dolphins

On fourth down and 1 yard to go in the third quarter, Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) was stopped short of the first down for a turnover on downs to the Miami Dolphins on December 24, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won, 29-13, clinching the AFC West division title.
On fourth down and 1 yard to go in the third quarter, Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) was stopped short of the first down for a turnover on downs to the Miami Dolphins on December 24, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won, 29-13, clinching the AFC West division title. deulitt@kcstar.com

In the other postgame press conference, a triumphant Andy Reid had changed out of the weather-proof duds he wore in that biting wind while his football team hammered the Dolphins and put on a Santa Claus outfit, complete with red coat and puffy white beard and, well, you know how it looks.

Right then, it became obvious that Dolphins coach Adam Gase came to this game hoping to see his team play complementary football for one of the few times this year, and maybe avoid turnovers, and hopefully get big plays out of his best players.

And the opposing coach came to Arrowhead Stadium so confident about what his otherwise mediocre team would do to Miami — in this case, a 29-13 beating — that he actually planned an alternate funny suit to wear to his news conference.

Yeah, respect must be earned.

And the Dolphins this season have earned very little.

So while the Dolphins still have a season finale to play against Buffalo next Sunday, we’re on to 2018, folks. Actually we’ve been on to 2018 after the Dolphins lost to Tampa Bay on the back end of a five-game losing skid.

Everyone except the Dolphins and the math knew it was over way back then.

Now it’s time to fix this mess. So I asked Cameron Wake what he might do to fix it.

“I would just figure out a way to implement consistency,” Wake said. “Complementary football, we’ve kind of been preaching all season we have to play together. But we’ve been back and forth. The offense does a good job, but the defense doesn’t get off the field and vice versa. They have turnovers or we don’t get turnovers.

“You can’t have up-and-down, up-and-down. You have to play consistent football 60 minutes throughout the season.”

Well, those are symptoms of a malady. But it’s not the actual problem.

So what’s the problem?

The Dolphins don’t have enough good players. And they have maybe one great player.

You know that translates to? Mediocre.

And the worry here is things aren’t going to change because I know the Dolphins don’t have the right philosophy to dig themselves out of mediocre. The Dolphins next offseason are going to continue to patch holes instead of rebuilding the wall.

This team has had a build-on-the-fly mentality for several years — adopted from the Bill Parcells’ school of team building — and it hasn’t worked. And it has never worked because it has delivered exactly zero NFL titles over the years.

And yet that’s what the Dolphins are set to continue next offseason: Build on a foundation that has cracks and lacks a cornerstone.

If I had to pick a cornerstone player on this team today it would be Ndamukong Suh. He’s the best and most consistent player on the squad. He’s great.

But even that comes with problems because Suh plays a position that doesn’t determine the game’s outcome. And he gets paid like a quarterback to do that. So Suh is great but the situation stinks because his greatness is virtually lost in trench warfare double teams.

Then the Dolphins have bigger problems. Their “playmakers” sometimes make plays. And sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes Jarvis Landry is the offense’s pulse and heartbeat. And sometimes he fumbles and yells at Gase and catches five passes for a nondescript 51 yards.

Sometimes Kiko Alonso intercepts a pass to win a game, as he did last year in San Diego. Or sometimes he has a season in which he struggles in coverage and takes bad angles to tackles as he did this season.

Same with DeVante Parker, Laremy Tunsil, Wake, Andre Branch, Lawrence Timmons, Julius Thomas, Jay Ajayi, on and on and on. The Dolphins think they have or had building blocks with those players.

But none are yet.

We know because we saw Ajayi’s behind-the-scenes antics get him traded. And we saw Wake miss sacks on consecutive weeks when the Dolphins needed him to make big plays to stay playoff relevant. And Timmons can’t cover anybody. And Thomas isn’t a factor in the red zone.

And Tunsil isn’t close to the future Hall of Famer he was billed as when he was drafted. And Branch doesn’t change the course of games. And Parker is too busy being bothered by injuries to play great.

It’s always something with this team and its roster.

That tells me there’s something wrong with the roster. That tells me the folks building the roster haven’t done a good enough job.

And if the talent is indeed solid (it isn’t) then Gase and his staff haven’t done a good enough job coaching.

So which one is it?

Look, this team doesn’t need a total rebuild. But the foundation has cracks. There is no cornerstone. There is only inconsistency that is punctuated by only occasional excellence.

You know what that means?

It means the Dolphins are mediocre and will stay that way unless they do something drastic and amazing next offseason.

Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins RB talks to the media about his first 100 yard game as they defeat the Denver Broncos.

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